James Lewin aka “The Rock King”

Peakirk born James Arthur Lewin would have been a well known name in Peterborough from the 1890s through to his death in 1942, not as James Lewin but as “The Rock King”, the man who sold vast quantities of rock, nougat and sweetmeats from his stall on Westgate.

Born to a Peakirk based shoemaker in 1868, James worked the local land before joining a local “sugar boiling” business from where he branched out to make his own confectionary at the princely age of 19. Aside from manning his stall in Westgate, he toured all across the eastern counties selling his wares at markets where he became immensely popular with the local kids who would rush to his stall on arrival because of his reknowned generosity in giving away sweets to the young ones !

The “Rock King” was a larger than life character not just in his stature but by virtue of wearing a large stetson hat always supported by a pink carnation buttonhole.

When not out on tour, he lived on Garton End Road for many years before moving to Daisy House on Brook Street. He died in January 1942 just after celebrating his Golden Wedding Anniversary with his Glapthorn born wife Elizabeth with whom he had ten children. His son, James Arthur Jnr, continued the business from his home at Mead Close, Walton until 1951 before choosing Peter Brotherhoods as his preferred source of income !

The locations for these images are unknown but are likely to be a mix of Peterborough and the Lynn Mart at Kings Lynn where he was also very popular and still remembered today.

Peterborough Lads

A mystery image showing a group of four lads somewhere in Peterborough in the early 1900s.

The only clue is that the photo was sent to a Mrs RD Frusher of 24 Williamson Avenue.

Thomas Barrass, Baptist Minister

Baptist minister, Rev Thomas Barrass (nicknamed ‘the Nonconformist Bishop of Peterborough’) whose popularity was behind the construction of a new building on Queen Street capable of seating 800 people in 1870.

The building only lasted for 35 years until, early in the morning of October 16, 1905 the chapel and most of the “Barrass Memorial Hall” built in 1904 alongside were completely burned down leaving only the shell of the buildings standing. The cause of the fire was unknown, but it is listed among the ‘great fires of Peterborough’.

Pictured below are the buildings before the fire and the devastation afterwards, along with smartly dressed onlookers !

Funeral of Rev. John James (1868)

The funeral march for and burial of Reverend, later Canon, John James dating back to December 1868.

Dr John James, born 1782, held many significant roles within the area including headmaster of Oundle School (1809-1829), Vicar of Maxey (1832), Vicar of St John’s in Peterborough (1833-1850) and Canon of Peterborough Cathedral for forty years until his death in 1868.

He was buried in the grounds of Peterborough cathedral where a  memorial plaque on the cathedral walls described him as a “preacher and a writer” and also referred to him as a “learned, loyal and devoted priest”.

Nobby the Tramp’s Golfing Adventure (2002)

In August 2002, a passer by added a set of golf clubs, complete with trolley, to Nobby’s Oundle Road bus shelter ….. it was never clear whether this was an act of generosity or simply the actions of a frustrated golfer who had just completed the round from hell on the local course !

The sight of Nobby practising his swing behind the shelter became a source of much amusement amongst the locals which included a reporter for the Peterborough Herald & Post newspaper who decided to approach Nobby with a view to grabbing an exclusive photo or two.

Despite his appearance, our Nobby was a sharp character and saw his chance to give the local reporter an even bigger exclusive than he could ever have dreamt of ….. he revealed that he was actually a decent golfer and would be playing at the forthcoming North West of Ireland Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club, in County Donegal !

Not only was the newspaper taken in by this amazing, if not slightly crazy, story they even provided him with financial support to travel over to Ireland !

Presumably to their surprise, when the professionals teed off on the 25th August, Nobby was to be found behind his iconic home still practising his swing !

No doubt feeling a little embarrassed by it all, Nobby initialy told the paper, “It wasn’t a joke and I had good intentions of going and playing but I guess it was not meant to be. I wasn’t accepted.” He then returned the “sponsorship” money that he had been given.

However, he later confessed to the rival Evening Telegraph newspaper, “I never expected this to make it into print. Of course I would love to play in a professional golf tournament but a golf pro ? You must be joking !”

“If I was to win the prize money it would be my way out of having to live in a bus shelter – it would be a dream come true and of course the Irish guys could still pick me up – I’d be in Ireland in time for the second day’s play. I’m always happy to make myself available for such tournaments” he said with a laugh !

A spokesperson for the tournament commented, “Players cannot simply apply to take part in a tournament like this, they have to qualify. We do have a number of invited guests who are taking part in the event this year, but no one with the name Nobby.”

As they say …… you couldn’t make it up !!!

The Dynatones

An early shot of Peterborough band The Dynatones ….. with vocalist Tony Benham (right).

Hereward Radio (1980)

Hereward Radio presenters shortly after the station launch in 1980 when the studios were based at the bottom of Bridge Street near Town Bridge. “The station you can really call your own” continued as Peterborough’s premier local radio station through to 2009 when it was rebranded and swallowed up by Global Radio’s Heart FM network.

Pictured are (L-R) Shaun Tilley (now with Sunshine Radio), Paula Ann Bland (later to star in Grange Hill) and Dave King (still working locally with Steve Allen Entertainments).

Adelaide Bassett (1859-1895)

Born in 1859, Adelaide was the wife of Henry Bassett and was a smoke balloonist in the early 1890s in partnership with and student of Captain Orton.

She made about 30 ascents in her career (all with Captain Orton) and flew smoke balloons in probably the first “double-aeronaut” para-jump in Europe.

The following was published in the The Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Aberdeen, Scotland, on Tuesday, 6 August 1895 following her tragic death ………

Female Parachutist Killed
‘Miss Adelaide Bassett, a London parachutist, was killed in Peterborough yesterday evening. In connection with a fete there had been arranged a balloon ascent and a double parachute descent by Captain Orton and Miss Bassett. The latter’s parachute was broken by a telephone wire on the balloon being released, and as she had consequently no means by which to descend, she jumped from the balloon to the ground and was killed.’

Smoke Ballooning

Smoke balloons, without onboard fire, became popular for fairs and exhibitions as parachutes were perfected. In particular, the standard grand climax of many celebrations at the turn of the 20th century was to have a trapeze artist ascend for hundreds of metres below a balloon belching black smoke before jumping from the trapeze to parachute back to Earth.

The smoke was not just for dramatic effect; it was essential to retain heat, as no fire was carried on board. Clean air cools rapidly in an ascending balloon, not only by radiation but also by the adiabatic process of expansion. The heat in the carbon particles is not affected by the change in atmospheric pressure during the ascent, so the smoke acts as a heat sink in addition to freshly sealing the porous muslin fabric typically used in such balloons.

Multi Coloured Swapshop at Ferry Meadows

The BBC’s popular Saturday morning kids show, Multi Coloured Swapshop, filming at Ferry Meadows on 28th May 1988 ….. Keith Chegwin on the microphone and Bretton Woods pupil and later Eastenders actress Cheryl Campbell (nee Fergison) with the scarf.

Peterborough United FC (1950s)

Press photos from POSH’s Midland League sides of the mid 1950s.

Dougald Campbell
Andy Donaldson
Norman Douglass
Jimmy McCabe
Willie Devlin

Andy Donaldson

David Bickerstaff
Terry Woodgate
Joe Davey
Jack Lindsey
Jack Walls
Dennis Emery

Fletton United FC (1907/8)

A superb old image showing the Fletton United FC team of 1907/8.

Fletton United amalgamated with Peterborough City FC in 1923 to become Peterborough & Fletton United FC. The latter folded in 1932 but the void was filled two years later when Peterborough United FC was formed.